CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 12 . . . .February 8, 2008
Harry C. Hobbs has collected 28 small poems which his father Arthur wrote for the children in his neighbourhood during the four decades he lived in Coburg, ON. In the forward to The Princess, the Pelican and the Big Brass Band, Hobbs writes about his father: "He was a born storyteller and loved writing poems for the neighbourhood kids. Frequently these children would ask him to write a poem about a pet of favourite animal and Arthur would oblige."
Of the 28 poems in this collection, 16 feature an animal, bird or fish, or 17 if you count a teddy bear as an animal! Mr. Hobbs senior has a fine ear for rhyme, rhythm and metre. All his verses scan perfectly; a rare achievement among writers of poems for children. They are fun to read aloud and will satisfy the need of very young children for the perfect rhyme. Several poems have a gentle lesson implied. "Mister Torquil the Turtle" teaches us the danger of too much hurry, "Susan's Doll" shows us the consequences of being mean, and "Gertie the Goose" emphasizes the importance of using our gifts to enjoy life.
It is unfortunate that the illustrations for The Princess, the Pelican and the Big Brass Band don't quite measure up to the quality of the text. In particular, the cover of the book, with its stiff and oddly dressed group of musicians representing a brass band (not even one trombone?) detracts from the its overall appeal. As well, the relative scarcity of the illustrations inside is a disappointment. There are too many pages with text only. The editor needs to take a look at other collections of poetry for young children (for instance any of Dennis Lee's) and note the appearance of an illustration for every poem, however short.
Valerie Nielsen, a retired teacher-librarian, lives in St. Norbert, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.